Loyal “Ragtag” Group Makes Annual Mecca Golf Pilgrimage to Treetops
By Greg Johnson
There’s loyalty as in returning golfers in the Gaylord Golf Mecca, and then there is Larry Mack and the group he leads. The Detroit native, now living in Florida, has been leading a golf group lovingly called “Ragtag” to Northern Michigan and the Gaylord Golf Mecca on golf trips for 46 years.
The last 23 trips in the third week of June have been to Treetops Resort.
“What can I say, we like it there because it’s perfect for our group,” Mack said.
It started as a social group outing of eight friends from Michigan State University who had played softball and then decided to golf together on an annual basis to stay in touch. It evolved from there to include Ford Motor Co. folks and other automotive industry people, marketing people and more. Business networking became part of it as Mack, who works with Epsilon marketing, found golf and networking to be a great combination. Friends from college still come, too. It’s a true Ragtag bunch, as big as 60 golfers one year and normally around 40.
A banquet is included. Mack even has a raffle for the MS Foundation because of a family member.
“It’s perfect for what we do, the banquet, the meeting space, the golf courses, it has what we need for what we’ve become,” he said.
“Treetops is a true resort and I still feel is one of the top 10 in the country,” he said. “Everything is inclusive, right there, and over the years we’ve talked with firemen, large corporate groups, so many different people there at the same time as us. It works for them, too. We’ve got guys coming from all over, some second generation 20-year-olds, involved in business but coming to play great golf courses and getaway, and at the same time share some business information and make contacts in a casual atmosphere. We’re Ragtag, but people get more than just rounds of golf if they want.”
Mack is especially familiar with the Gaylord Golf Mecca. He’s one of eight kids of Joe and Marie Mack, who used to live in Michaywe’ in the heart of the Mecca.
“A lot of people in the community knew them and I still run into people that knew them when I come for the outing,” he said. “Gaylord still has that great small town atmosphere and feel everywhere you go, and yet they have all this fabulous golf in the area. In the early years we went to a few other places, too, but Gaylord and Treetops can’t be beat.”
Barry Owens, the general manager at Treetops, said when he is asked about the kind of groups that come to the resort he always thinks of the Ragtag group. “Part of it is Larry Mack, he’s a character and he really knows how to lead a group, and the other part is just the way they plan and use the resort to help us make it a great experience for their group. They have a great time. They tell us what they want. We make it happen. Then they keep coming back for more.”
The Ragtag group now includes a second generation of some families, and various members come on the annual golf trip for many reasons.
“For some it’s just the great golf, for others it’s sharing information in a relaxed atmosphere for your career and having fun at the same time, and for some it’s meeting people for business and using golf as a terrific way to do that,” Mack said. “You can play golf, and pick some brains for your business, too, and you don’t have to call it a business meeting. We have guys retiring now who don’t want to play five days of golf or can’t, so we’re evolving there, too. We have meetings and talk about it with each other and Treetops. We want to keep it going.”
Mack said after all these years he’s handing the reins to his son Ryan to lead the group. “Hey, maybe they can go another 46,” he said. “Each year I know about 65 percent of the guys who come back, but then there’s new people, and young people. I always try to talk to the younger new people to get their perspective. It keeps the annual thing going and Treetops always takes great care of us. They have great people there.”